North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range rocket as it rounds off a tumultuous year marked by the sudden death of leader Kim Jong Il last December, the ascension of his 20-something son, and the humiliating failure of a rocket launch in April.
NPR recently interviewed five North Koreans in a northern Chinese city, gaining a rare glimpse of that eventful year through North Korean eyes. They were all visiting China legally, having left North Korea within the past few months.
Though Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman told Weekend All Things Considered that he thought the $94,000 paid for a bottle of his company's Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 55 Year Old whisky was a record, it appears he was mistaken.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that universities can consider race as a factor, if the goal is to achieve diversity. But in that case, former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor famously wrote that within 25 years, race-based affirmative action would become obsolete.
But affirmative action could disappear sooner than that.
Illinois could become the third state — after Washington and New Mexico — where undocumented immigrants can obtain driver's licenses. The legislation is halfway there. A bill that passed the state Senate 41-14 last Tuesday has bipartisan support.
Before the Senate vote, leaders from both parties, including Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican former Gov. Jim Edgar, spoke out in favor of the legislation. Supporters say that the roads will be safer if undocumented immigrants can pass the tests and get driver's licenses.
Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 6:09 pm
Hundreds of people gathered in September at Baltimore's harbor as the wind gusted off the water's edge. Nearly 50 of them were about to be sworn in as U.S. citizens. Some were young, some old. There were uniformed members of the U.S. military, parents and children. There were immigrants from El Salvador, China, Honduras and countries in between. They raised their right hands, recited the naturalization oath to the United States, and were declared fully American.
From mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's ambitious revival of the early Baroque composer Agostino Stefani (and yes, she's got another outrageous album cover) to three very different roles for the violin, here's a clutch of classical albums I returned to again and again this year for sheer delight and aural inspiration. Bartoli lavishes extravagant attention on the music of a fascinating but forgotten link in the history of opera.
Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 2:20 pm
Egypt's main opposition group has called for mass protests against President Mohammed Morsi's decision to go ahead with a referendum on the country's draft constitution.
"We do not recognize the draft constitution because it does not represent the Egyptian people," said Sameh Ashour, who spoke on behalf of the National Salvation Front, the main umbrella group for opposition parties.
Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 5:03 pm
U.S. forces rescued Sunday an American doctor who was kidnapped in Afghanistan last week.
Dr. Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colo., was kidnapped Dec. 5 along with two other aid workers who were returning from a visit to a rural medical clinic outside Kabul. All three worked for Morning Star Development, a Colorado-based nonprofit.
NPR's Sean Carberry reported on the rescue for our Newscast Unit. Here's what he said:
This past week marks a sad anniversary in one corner of the music world. In December 2009, the Philadelphia guitarist Jack Rose died of a heart attack. He was just 38 years old and about to release a new album of the fingerstyle guitar music he was known for.
Rose's career was relatively short, and the style of music he played doesn't have a huge fan base these days, but for one artist, Rose meant a lot.
Daniel Bachman is a 23-year-old guitarist who loves traditional guitar music, He's his own musician, but he grew up listening to Rose.
The Afghan construction industry has been one of the big winners since the fall of the Taliban. NATO and the international community have pumped billions of dollars into building roads, schools and bases.
With the drawdown of troops and NGOs, however, comes a drawdown in construction spending, and that has Afghan contractors scrambling to find new business.